Last night G and I sat down to work on a budget for the new year. Sounds boring, but I love crunching the numbers, seeing how much we can save while still living well. Our budget includes categories for dates, coffee and entertainment (we're planning to get netflix once we get a t.v. next month). But what I was amazed at is the items not on the list, and where we save.
First, baby items. Nora is breastfed and cloth diapered so we don't have the more normal expenses for diapers and formula. Even better? By the time she's at the age where we're having her try other foods, it will be time for the CSA, so I'll be using those veggies for her! That and the whole ton of applesauce I made this fall! So we won't have much in the way of baby food expenses for her period.
Second, because of spending more upfront on things such as the CSA, our pork and our beef (which we should be picking up within a week or so), our monthly grocery bill is much lower. We sat down and calculated how much milk, butter, coffee etc we go through every month and budgeted for that. We don't plan to eat just pork and beef, so we budgeted for chicken and fish as well. And we also plan to do some very bean and veggie heavy meals. Dried beans are cheap, healthy and provide the protein you need!
G and I have some huge goals for the next few years in regards to paying off my student loans, our car and paying down the mortgage. My fear was that in order to do that we'd have to completely cut out coffee dates and "fun", but we even have a category for "blow money" budgeted in, for things we just want, not need.
A budget is important for being able to save as much as we want to, while still taking care of needs and wants in the here and now. By going through everything, I was able to see that tithing 10% really won't hurt our budget, and we're also going to be able to put away a significant amount for Nora's future. We're splitting our savings into 5 different accounts, Emergency, Main, Nora's Future, Clothing, and Vacation. By separating them we'll know we can tweak what goes into a few of them if our budget needs any tweaking, while maintaining a minimum we've set for the emergency account, and not touching Nora's.
Creating the budget also made us really think about where we could cut back. Instead of doing breakfast at Clementine after church every weekend, we've decided we'd rather get up and eat breakfast before church and then grab coffee there after church. It saves us quite a bit each week, and it also had us having to get creative. One of the reasons we do breakfast is because we can't come home right after church because the church across the street takes up all the street parking for blocks. However, we decided that we could get coffee, sit and enjoy that for an hour or so, and then take Nora to the lake on the way home, walk a couple miles and then head home. Which will help with other goals I have for this year! (another post to come)
Overall I feel really good about our budget. Do you sit down and budget for the year? Or do you evaluate each month separately?